Maker series: A Q&A with Illustrator Jackson Tupper

Maker series: A Q&A with Illustrator Jackson Tupper

We sat down for an intimate chat with Burlington based Designer & Printmaker Jackson Tupper in his playful apartment. We talked about art, direction, and Jackson's creative process as one of Burton's lead designers.

Portrait of Jackson Tupper by Daniel Schechner.

Tell us about you! Who are you and what do you do?  
I’m a 28-year-old artist and designer living in Burlington, Vermont. I work at Burton Snowboards as a graphic designer of hardgoods product, where I spend most of my time designing snowboard graphics and watching the dogs of the office manipulate the humans into feeding them treats. Outside of my day job, I help run Iskra Print Collective, a non-profit screen printing studio in Burlington, where we teach classes, host art shows, take on commercial print jobs (such as gig posters) and run print workshops. In my free time, I also do some freelance illustration and design, as well as work on my own body of art in the form of paintings, ink drawings, screen prints, wood cutouts, and animations. 

Why do you like making art? How did you first start?
I’ve been making art as long as I can remember. I credit the TV show Pappyland as my earliest memory of being really engaged in illustration. It was the equivalent of Bob Ross for young children. Pappy Drewitt was the artist/teacher/main character who traveled around the imaginary Pappyland, drawing a cartoon picture of random scenes and scenarios he finds himself in, all while coaching his young viewers through his illustration techniques. Looking back now, the show was pretty trippy, but it was pretty cool and a lot of fun at the time. After my Pappyland days, I found myself connecting with cartoons and comic strips like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes and began creating my own characters and comics. I learned from a young age that art gives me the power to invent my own worlds. I like translating imagination into physical work.

In what ways does living in Vermont influence your work and process? What’s it like to be a young creative in a small state like Vermont? 
Burlington in specific has such a tight community of artists and makers, and an amazing network of people and businesses that support local craft. It’s easy to be inspired by peers here and to be involved in and collaborate on cool projects in the community. I first began showing my art at restaurants and cafes in Burlington 8 years ago, and there are so many businesses here that are eager to showcase local artists on their walls. That gave me the confidence and drive to continue to put my work out there and push my craft.

What inspires your aesthetic and style? 
Color, form, space, imagination

A Burton snowboard design by Jackson Tupper

What was the biggest lesson you ever learned from failure?
I think I’m constantly learning how to use failure as a tool to be better. Failure has the power influence you both negatively and positively, it just depends how you react to it.

An illustration by Jackson Tupper

Tell us what connection and gathering looks like for you? What value does it hold?
Well I guess I can answer this question both in specific to art and more generally as a human.
In my art-making and viewing, connection is an integral part of the process. It's the experience that happens between the viewer and the work that completes a piece for me –– whether it's feeling sadness, joy, digust, laughter, etc.
More generally though, I believe that the meaningful relationships formed between people and between places is the key to happiness.

How do you connect to our Vermont Farm Table products? Why do you they stand out to you? 
Simple design and quality material go a long way for me. Vermont Farm Table products fit my aesthetic and are easy to curate a beautiful space around.

How would you plan on using our product in your space?
At home I don’t have a designated workspace or studio. I eat breakfast, work on my laptop, draw in my sketchbook, play dice, pay rent, do the crossword, hangout with friends, drink coffee and mindlessly stare into the void all at the same table. I like it that way. It’s right next to the kitchen which is the best seat in the house.

What do you do when you fall into a creative rut?
Always keep making. It’s the only way to take out the garbage from my mind and work through stale ideas. As frustrating as making bad work can be, only through the process of putting pen to paper am I able to develop new ideas.

It also really helps me to seek inspiration from artists that I really admire.

What are some of your creative influences?
The peanuts gang, old book covers, merch tables at shows